FAR HILLS, NJ — Irish eyes were smiling brightly at the 98th running of the Far Hills Races on Oct. 20.
Irish-bred horses won four of seven races, and those which were not born in the Emerald Isle were trained or ridden by people with Irish backgrounds.
To kick things off, British-bred Caldbeck, who had been racing in Ireland but had yet to win in six starts, won the $50,000 Gladstone Stakes for three-year-olds, handily by a margin of 11 ½ lengths.
The colt, was purchased by Rosbrian Farm and came to Ricky Hendriks’ barn just a month earlier.
Caldbeck was ridden by Irish sensation Jack Kennedy, who is just 19 years old. He rides principally for Irish-born trainer Gordon Elliott and won 62 races for him last season, a 22% strike rate. Earlier this year he rode Zanjabeel to victory in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap for Hendriks.
The second race, the $50,000. The Harry E. Harris. Sport of Kings Maiden Hurdle, went to the Irish-bred Special Relation, ridden by Willie McCarthy and trained by Jack Fisher for Bruton Street-US.
There were two divisions of the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle.
Irish-bred Belisarius took his division by 6 1/4 lengths with Bernie Dalton in the irons.
Belisarius is owned by Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Stable.
Ross Geraghty was on the winning end in the second division, aboard British-bred, Detroit Blues owned by bred Rosbrian Farm. It was the second training win of the day for Hendriks.
The big race, the grade 1, $450,000 Grand National went to Sideways Syndicate’s Irish-bred Jury Duty with Robbie Power, 36, in the saddle. The jockey is the son of well-known Irish show jumper, Con Power and won the 2007 Grand National at Aintree aboard 33-1 shot Silver Birch.
Jury Duty, trained by Elliott, survived a claim of foul. Tornado Watch’s jockey, David Mullins, claimed foul when Jury Duty changed lanes in front of him.
The $50,000.The Appleton when to French-bred Invocation but with Irish-born jockey, Sean McDermott in the saddle for Straylight Racing and trainer William Santoro.
Fisher and Hendriks began the day in a tie atop the trainer standings, and they each won two to stay deadlocked, although Fisher leads the money race with $818,650 to Hendriks’ $806,200.
Far Hill organizers were also smiling as this year’s races included pari-mutuel betting for the first time. The mayor of Far Hills, Paul Vallone was the first to place a legal bet, and he reportedly picked a winner.
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